• Ward Sanford

Stadia Books--What's in a Name?

Stadia (pronounced stay-dee-a) Books is the name of my limited liability company (LLC) set up to publish the Cry For Jerusalem series. What does “stadia” mean? Why would I choose this word? In English, stadia is the plural of the word stadium. It comes from Greek, where it means a distance that is about the length of our typical stadium—hence our word. It is about one-eighth of a Roman mile (4,860 feet—a little shorter than our 5,280-foot mile). So a stadia is about 600 or so feet. It is also about one furlong (660 feet), so older English translations of Josephus translated it to furlong. But still, why would I pick this word--stadia? Because it is a key to understanding the dimensions of the outer enclosure of the Second (and Herod's) Temple, and it also creates a controversy to its size and former location. Josephus (who was there) stated that the Temple enclosure was a square, about one stadia on a side. He also said that Herod expanded the Temple enclosure to the north so that the final full perimeter was six stadia “including” or “sharing a side with” Fortress Antonia. In our maps in Cry For Jerusalem you will see a layout that I think is most consistent with Josephus, one given by Thomas Lewin, a 19th century Josephus scholar. It shows an outer courtyard to the north roughly equal in size to the Temple enclosure. This layout also allows for the one-stadia-long elevated walkway on the west side of that courtyard that connected the Temple to Fortress Antonia and played a prominent site of armed conflicts of the First Jewish Revolt. If you go to Jerusalem today you will mostly see a different, more recent, layout interpretation that ignores the writings of the “traitor” Josephus. It is based on the Jewish Talmud’s description of a 750-foot-wide enclosure, and places Herod’s Temple at the Dome of the Rock. It is odd that no ancient source describes the larger rectangular dimensions of the Temple Mount (1,000 by 1,500 feet) we see today. Much more on all this controversy later. In the photo above I am standing at the northwest corner of where the Temple enclosure would have been, looking south a distance of one stadia. The Second Temple would have been where those trees are in the distance. The arched columns on the right remind me of those elevated walkways that guarded the Temple. Can you imagine Roman soldiers standing up there keeping watch?

Copyright Cry For Jerusalem 2020